Alabama is now 18-12 on the year and will wait to see how its season is extended. NCAA Tournament selections will be announced late Sunday afternoon. Alabama is considered to be certain to be selected. Projections have the Tide as anywhere from a six to a 12 seed, but the loss to the Gators–who had been in something of a swoon late in the season–probably puts Bama closer to 12 than to six.
It will be an all Eastern Division field the final two days at the SEC Tournament in Atlanta. Vanderbilt turned in a 74-70 upset of regular season champion Mississippi State, also an overtime game. On the other side of the bracket in afternoon games, Kentucky defeated Georgia and South Carolina defeated LSU.
Florida had defeated Bama, 88-78, in regular season play in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama started the game with excellent shooting, particularly by Earnest Shelton, and roared out to a 13-point lead, 33-20, with just under five minutes to play in the first half. But that 13-point lead melted to just a bucket as the Tide went cold from the field while giving up three-point shots to the Gators. Bama was able to take only a 37-33 lead to intermission.
Although Alabama led most of the second half, it took a couple of free throws by Antoine Pettway to put the game into overtime. Pettway made his shots with four seconds to play in regulation and tied the game at 68-68. Bama then had to dodge a bullet as a long shot by Anthony Roberson came just after the buzzer.
No one could fault Shelton for the loss. The junior guard, who was injured and did not play against Florida in the regular season meeting, had an outstanding game. He had 27 points on 9-19 shooting (7-16 on three-point shots), six rebounds, three assists, and only one turnover.
Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said, "You have to give Florida credit. I'm proud of our guys. They really played hard. Sometimes the ball bounces against you. We had tremendous effort. And I think this will make us better. I think we've got a lot of basketball left. Not only was it a long game, it was a physically tough game." Gottfried said, "It is unusual that we would have a game that both Kennedy Winston and Emmett Thomas would struggle from the field on the same night." Winston was particularly ineffective as a scorer, getting only six points. He did have six rebounds and six assists. And Winston hit two free throws that tied the game at 73-73 with 2:02 remaining in overtime, the last points until the game-winning basket.
The coach said, "We'll take a couple of days off. We'll watch the (NCAA selection) show on Sunday. I'll be very disappointed if we're not in the tournament."
Gottfried said, "We're disappointed in the loss, but our team is resilient. We will get excited about the next step."
Alabama started the game shooting very well, but finished the night with poor results. The Tide was good on only 23 of 60 field goal attempts, 38.3 per cent, and only 11-32 three-point shots (only 4-13 after intermission), 34.4 per cent. Florida hit 25-63 from the field, 39.7 per cent, and only 8-36 three-pointers, 22 per cent. Bama was good on free throws, 16-21, 76.2 per cent, but Florida was excellent, 17-18, 94.4 per cent.